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Albert Schweitzer (1875 – 1965)


German philosopher, philanthropist, physician, theologian, missionary, and musicologist; who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.
Albert Schweitzer
Faith which refuses to face indisputable facts is but little faith. Truth is always gain, however hard it is to accommodate ourselves to it. To linger in any kind of untruth proves to be a departure from the straight way of faith.
Schweitzer quotes
The restoration of our world-view can come only as a result of inexorably truth-loving and recklessly courageous thought. Such thinking alone is mature enough to learn by experience how the rational, when it thinks itself out to a conclusion, passes necessarily over into the non-rational. World- and life-affirmation and ethics are non-rational. They are not justified by any corresponding knowledge of the nature of the world, but are the disposition in which, through the inner compulsion of our will-to-live, we determine our relation to the world.
What the activity of this disposition of ours means in the evolution of the world, we do not know. Nor can we regulate this activity from outside; we must leave entirely to each individual its shaping and its extension. From every point of view, then, world- and life-affirmation and ethics are non-rational, and we must have the courage to admit it.
Schweitzer
Never for a moment do we lay aside our mistrust of the ideals established by society, and of the convictions which are kept by it in circulation. We always know that society is full of folly and will deceive us in the matter of humanity. ... humanity meaning consideration for the existence and the happiness of individual human beings.




Schweitzer Albert quotes
The thinking man must oppose all cruel customs no matter how deeply rooted in tradition and surrounded by a halo. When we have a choice, we must avoid bringing torment and injury into the life of another, even the lowliest creature; to do so is to renounce our manhood and shoulder a guilt which nothing justifies.
Schweitzer Albert
We came to a tree which was still bare, and on which the birds were singing out gaily in the morning, without any fear of us. Then stooping over like an Indian on the hunt, my companion placed a pebble in the leather of his sling and stretched it. Obeying his peremptory glance I did the same, with frightful twinges of conscience, vowing firmly that I would shoot when he did. At that very moment the church bells began to sound, mingling with the song of the birds in the sunshine. It was the warning bell that came a half-hour before the main bell. For me it was a voice from heaven. I threw the sling down, scaring the birds away, so that they were safe from my companion's sling, and fled home. And ever afterwards when the bells of Holy Week ring out amidst the leafless trees in the sunshine I remember with moving gratitude how they rang into my heart at that time the commandment: Thou shalt not kill.
Albert Schweitzer quotes
From my youth onwards, I have felt sure that all thought which thinks itself out to an issue ends in mysticism. In the stillness of the African jungle I have been able to work out this thought and give it expression.
Albert Schweitzer
I do not want to frighten you by telling you about the temptations life will bring. Anyone who is healthy in spirit will overcome them. But there is something I want you to realize. It does not matter so much what you do. What matters is whether your soul is harmed by what you do. If your soul is harmed, something irreparable happens, the extent of which you won't realize until it will be too late.
Schweitzer Albert quotes
Those who thank God much are the truly wealthy. So our inner happiness depends not on what we experience but on the degree of our gratitude to God, whatever the experience.
Schweitzer
The only originality I claim is that for me this truth goes hand in hand with the intellectual certainty that the human spirit is capable of creating in our time a new mentality, an ethical mentality. Inspired by this certainty, I too proclaim this truth in the hope that my testimony may help to prevent its rejection as an admirable sentiment but a practical impossibility. Many a truth has lain unnoticed for a long time, ignored simply because no one perceived its potential for becoming reality.
Schweitzer Albert
Any religion or philosophy which is not based on a respect for life is not a true religion or philosophy.
Albert Schweitzer
I have given my life to try to alleviate the sufferings of Africa. There is something that all white men who have lived here like I must learn and know: that these individuals are a sub-race. They have neither the intellectual, mental, or emotional abilities to equate or to share equally with white men in any function of our civilization. I have given my life to try to bring them the advantages which our civilization must offer, but I have become well aware that we must retain this status: the superior and they the inferior. For whenever a white man seeks to live among them as their equals they will either destroy him or devour him. And they will destroy all of his work. Let white men from anywhere in the world, who would come to Africa, remember that you must continually retain this status; you the master and they the inferior like children that you would help or teach. Never fraternize with them as equals. Never accept them as your social equals or they will devour you. They will destroy you.




Albert Schweitzer quotes
Most men are scantily nourished on a modicum of happiness and a number of empty thoughts which life lays on their plates. They are kept in the road of life through stern necessity by elemental duties which they cannot avoid.
Again and again their will-to-live becomes, as it were, intoxicated: spring sunshine, opening flowers moving clouds, waving fields of grain all affect it. The manifold will-to-live, which is known to us in the splendid phenomena in which it clothes itself, grasps at their personal wills. They would fain join their shouts to the mighty symphony which is proceeding all around them. The world seem beauteous...but the intoxication passes. Dreadful discords only allow them to hear a confused noise, as before, where they had thought to catch the strains of glorious music. The beauty of nature is obscured by the suffering which they discover in every direction. And now they see again that they are driven about like shipwrecked persons on the waste of ocean, only that the boat is at one moment lifted high on the crest of the waves and a moment later sinks deep into the trough; and that now sunshine and now darkening clouds lie on the surface of the water.
And now they would fain persuade themselves that land lies on the horizon toward which they are driven. Their will-to-live befools their intellect so that it makes efforts to see the world as it would like to see it. It forces this intellect to show them a map which lends support to their hope of land. Once again they essay to reach the shore, until finally their arms sink exhausted for the last time and their eyes rove desperately from wave to wave. ...
Thus it is with the will-to-live when it is unreflective.
But is there no way out of this dilemma? Must we either drift aimlessly through lack of reflection or sink in pessimism as the result of reflection? No. We must indeed attempt the limitless ocean, but we may set our sails and steer a determined course.
Albert Schweitzer
Every start upon an untrodden path is a venture which only in unusual circumstances looks sensible and likely to be successful.
Schweitzer quotes
We cannot abdicate our conscience to an organization, nor to a government. 'Am I my brother's keeper?' Most certainly I am! I cannot escape my responsibility by saying the State will do all that is necessary. It is a tragedy that nowadays so many think and feel otherwise.
Schweitzer Albert
May the men who hold the destiny of peoples in their hands, studiously avoid anything that might cause the present situation to deteriorate and become even more dangerous. May they take to heart the words of the Apostle Paul: "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." These words are valid not only for individuals, but for nations as well. May these nations, in their efforts to maintain peace, do their utmost to give the spirit time to grow and to act.
Schweitzer Albert quotes
True philosophy must start from the most immediate and comprehensive fact of consciousness: "I am life that wants to live, in the midst of life that wants to live."
Albert Schweitzer
The ethical ideas on which civilization rests have been wandering about the world, poverty-stricken and homeless. No theory of the universe has been advanced which can give them solid foundation; in fact not one has made its appearance which can claim for itself solidity and inner consistency. The age of philosophical dogmatism had come to an end, and after that nothing was recognized as truth except the science which described reality. Complete theories of the universe no longer appeared as fixed stars; they were regarded as resting on hypothesis, and ranked no higher than comets.
Albert Schweitzer quotes
The ethic of Reverence for Life prompts us to keep each other alert to what troubles us and to speak and act dauntlessly together in discharging the responsibility that we feel. It keeps us watching together for opportunities to bring some sort of help to animals in recompense for the great misery that men inflict upon them, and thus for a moment we escape from the incomprehensible horror of existence.
Albert Schweitzer
The African is my brother but he is my younger brother by several centuries.
Schweitzer Albert
What really matters is that we should all of us realize that we are guilty of inhumanity. The horror of this realization should shake us out of our lethargy so that we can direct our hopes and our intentions to the coming of an era in which war will have no place.


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